This post is a few years old, but decided to run it again because of Monday’s post.

_______________________________

Hannibal Lecture, Norman Bates, & Darth Vader; three of cinemas greatest villains. According to the American Film Institute, these are the top three greatest villains of all time. The shark from Jaws, the alien from Alien, and the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also made it in the top twenty.

What is it about these villains that make them better than the average villain? Why is it when we think of Darth Vader, for example, that we think, Yes! He’s an awesome villain. For starters, he’s got the force, his outfit is pretty cool, and his voice/breathing has left a lasting impression on culture (thanks James Earl Jones). But, he also crushes a man’s neck in Episode IV, as well as, cutting off several other character’s breathing, ending their life. Is that good? Does that make him awesome?

We at Reel Thinking, recently composed a list of the top villains/henchmen in the James Bond franchise. It got me thinking, should we really cheer for the bad guys? What criteria do we use to judge whether or not a villain is a ‘good’ villain? Or, is it okay to like the villain in some cases?

According to AFI’s criteria, they state,

For voting purposes, a “villain” was defined as a character(s) whose wickedness of mind, selfishness of character and will to power are sometimes masked by beauty and nobility, while others may rage unmasked. They can be horribly evil or grandiosely funny, but are ultimately tragic.*

This is a carefully crafted definition, but ultimately it’s praising crafty, wickedness or, simply, in-your-face evil. Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Craftiness

The AFI definition states that the wickedness and evil is sometimes masked by beauty and nobility; i.e. craftiness. When I hear the word ‘crafty’, I think of Satan. In Genesis 3:1 we read that the serpent was more crafty than all the other animals. The serpent was wicked, yet there was something attractive about him. His evil wasn’t repulsive or Adam and Eve would have run in the other direction. His wickedness had an appeal, or beauty if you will, that made Adam and Eve run to him, resulting in the Fall of mankind. Therefore, we can say that evil sometimes possesses a certain level of beauty and appeal.

In-Your-Face-Evil

Some of the villains on the AFI list are those who rage unmasked or are considered horribly evil. Villains like Freddy Krueger, the shark from Jaws, and Terminator from The Terminator. We wouldn’t say that these villains possess a lot of beauty. I know a shark is part of God’s creation, so we can say they possess a certain level of beauty. However, if you were swimming in open water and you spotted a great white racing towards you, I doubt you would think – What beauty that creature possesses!

Some of the villains on the silver screen are pure evil. What is it about those villains that leave a lasting impression? They possess a certain level of power, justice, and wrath we appreciate.

Even though they may use those attributes in a dishonoring way, the attributes, in and of themselves, are godly. We know God as all-powerful, or omnipotent. He is just. And because of his holiness, justice and love, he is wrath too. All of these attributes, however, are only used in a beautiful way that makes his glory known.

Therefore, I think we can appreciate villains. We must be cautious in cheering for the bad guy or taking pleasure in these godly attributes being employed in a villainous manner. However, these attributes, pre-perversion, can help us better understand our mighty God.

_________________________________
*http://www.afi.com/100Years/handv.aspx

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] as Caul, the paranoid and helpless individual. In other words, we have in Harry Caul not another “good villain,” another Walter White, but a man with an extremely relatable struggle. Because it turns out that […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s